AX.25 1200Bd AFSK FM – to pre-emphasise or not

Hams have used 1200Bd AFSK FM as the physical layer of AX.25 for decades, though with variable implementation quality.

Whilst the AX.25 packet networks of yore have all but died, the protocol is currently used with APRS, and so the related issues remain relevant… well as relevant as APRS remains. Continue reading AX.25 1200Bd AFSK FM – to pre-emphasise or not

Diagnosis of APRS reception problem

I spent some hours today trying to receive a balloon travelling nearby on 2m 1200Bd AFSK.

At the end of the day, I note that the balloon was decoded by only two receivers located in or near Sydney and that resulted in a record to APRS-IS. One was my own station which decoded three packets, and VK2RHR-1 which relayed 16 packets.

Given the balloon’s flight, it is notable that it was not relayed by VK2AWM-1 (which was 40km closer), VK2RAG-1 and VK2RTZ-1 at Gosford and Newcastle, and at least four igates in Wollongong, Sydney and Newcastle. Continue reading Diagnosis of APRS reception problem

Audio level setup on TNC-X (MFJ-1270X)

Appropriate setup of audio drive of an AFSK APRS FM transmitter is important to ensuring that the signal can be copied by all receivers in range.

Excessive audio drive results in a signal that cannot be decoded by some receivers event though it may be very strong.

The TNC-X does not have any facilities for producing steady tones for adjusting the tx audio output for the desired deviation level, so alternate firmware was developed solely for this lineup function. The regular MCU chip is replaced by the adjustment chip for the lineup then the regular MCU chip is reinstalled. Note that this is not an augmented version of the regular firmware, it is for adjustment purposes only… do not overwrite the original chip. Continue reading Audio level setup on TNC-X (MFJ-1270X)

Review of APRSTRACKER v0.11 firmware

I recently built a FoxDelta FOXTRAK APRS tracker.


FoxDelta supply the FOXTRAK with firmware by DK7IN, but also recommend APRSTRACKER by PE1RXQ and PE1ICQ.

APRSTRACKER v0.11 was trialled as it offered promise of a better SmartBeaconing implementation and support for altitude, course and speed reporting. Continue reading Review of APRSTRACKER v0.11 firmware

Spoiling balun action with ‘shielded twin’

In a QST column in 2008, a correspondent asked the question

… I have the ladder line terminated to double coaxes that run about 12′ (4m) inside the house to an antenna tuner. Should this pair of coaxes be grounded at one end or both ends?


The Doctor gave a detailed diagram (above) and his advice was… Continue reading Spoiling balun action with ‘shielded twin’

What does an Antenna Tuning Unit (ATU) do?

An Antenna Tuning Unit (ATU) performs a simple but important function in many transmitting systems.

Almost all things called an ATU are simply impedance transformers, and almost always, narrow band impedance transformers (meaning that when adjusted, they achieved the desired transformation over only a narrow frequency range).

Screenshot - 03_05_2014 , 15_06_33

ATUs come in a range of configurations, each designed for a specific set of characteristics. Above is the heart of a Palstar AT2K T Tuner, just three real passive components that are fully explained by conventional linear circuit theory. Continue reading What does an Antenna Tuning Unit (ATU) do?